On certain days, all we want is to go back in time, to those memories that can only be relived through reading those dusty, musty sections of the historical novels. Looking at ancient, tattered pictures of people and locations from prior ages may be both fascinating and comforting. You can’t help but picture how easy and everyday existence must have been in the past. The Philippines serving as a shining example of everything cultural and historical is a wonderful thing. The traumatic several centuries that this small archipelago underwent at the hands of barbaric colonists left behind some of the most astounding and enduring architectural treasures ever created.
Nowadays, the Philippines is home to a large number of Filipino historical homes, each of which has an inspiring and valiant tale to share. Some of the remaining homes from wealthy families or notable historical figures in the Philippines have also undergone adaptations and are now primarily used as restaurants, hostels, or museums. To obtain a taste of our rich history and to be brought back of our Filipino identity, it is vital to look back at these dilapidated and run-down houses.
As a result of their literal stone construction, many of these homes are referred to as Bahay na Bato. Here are the most interesting ancestral houses or heritage houses in the Philippines.
Top 10 Ancestral Houses in the Philippines
The importance of ancestral home to Filipino identity cannot be overstated. Each of them is a relic from a bygone era, bearing witness to history. These dwellings’ walls provide a wealth of information about the residents who formerly called them home, as well as details that resisted change and progress and provided glimpses into a bygone era of society.
Given that we can travel through time while staying in the present, ancestral homes can be thought of as time booths. Ancestral house, particularly the lives of the residents, provide us with clues about what the past may have looked like, similar to antique furniture and old cars.
So let’s embark on a brief tour of some of the most well-known heritage house in the Philippines.
1. Bahay Nakpil Bautista
In the middle of Quiapo holy and religious neighborhood, it is strangely dreaded for its congested, renowned streets filled with criminals and con artists. This deceptive sign encouraged visitors—even locals—to avoid the area like the plague while ignoring the hidden treasures that the area still has to offer. This 500 square meter, two-story Bahay na Bato in Quiapo, Manila, is one of the less well-known Filipino historic homes that had a significant impact on the revolution. Because of its residents’ close ties to the Katipunan, Bahay Nakpil-Bautista is additionally known as “Tahanan ng mga Katipunero”. It was constructed in 1914 by Arcadio Arellano for benefactor Dr. Ariston Bautista and his wife Petrona Nakpil. Dr. Bautista was a close friend of Jose Rizal.
2. Balay Negrense
Visit Negros Occidental, known as the sugar capital of the Philippines, to get a taste of the opulent haciendero culture of the pre-war Philippines. For instance, the Balay Negrense, originally owned by sugar baron Victor Gaston, is one of its heritage homes. Its 1989 repair prevented it from being abandoned in the 20th century.
The building is notable for its high ceilings and numerous windows that let in natural light. Every room in the house serves as a reminder of a bygone yet lavishly lived time. A grand staircase serves as the home’s architectural focal point, while other antiques on show include chandeliers, photos, and vintage clothing.
3. Casa de Segunda
Although Jose Rizal had relationships with women during his life, Segunda Katigbak, a Lipa, Batangas resident and the daughter of a prominent family, is thought to have been the man’s first love. But she was forced to wed Manuel Luz, who was from a wealthy family in Lipa. The pair lived in the Casa de Segunda, commonly known as the Luz-Katigbak House, which is still intact today.
The home is a stunning example of native and Spanish architectural styles, enhanced by lush vegetation, wooden furnishings, and Machuca tiles.
There are still many of the family’s personal items visible inside. On the bottom level of the house, for instance, are a photograph of Katigbak as well as pictures of her ancestors and family.
4. Aguinaldo Shrine
The Aguinaldo Shrine, the residence of Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Philippines, was present at one of the most significant turning points in Philippine history. It is the location of the 1898 declaration of the nation’s independence from Spain, an occasion we now honor every June 12 as a national holiday.
The home has undergone numerous restorations since it was built in the beginning from nipa and thatch. Due to its transformation into a museum, tourists can now awe at a variety of historical objects. Aguinaldo’s life and the Philippine revolution are featured in a number of exhibits on the ground floor of the house.
The family room, sleeping spaces, dining area, and kitchen are located on the second level of the home, which features big elements from both the art nouveau and art deco eras. Inside, there are also hidden pathways and compartments; for instance, certain cupboards and chairs have their own hidden compartments where items can be concealed.
5. Henson-Hizon Heritage House
The Henson-Hizon Heritage House is one of our family homes that has not only survived to the present day but has also witnessed a significant period in Philippine history.
Nicolasa Dayrit Panlilio, who was renowned for her valiant efforts in assisting injured Filipino soldiers during the Filipino-American War, called it home. She was also praised for serving as a mediator in the dispute between Generals Thomas Mascardo and Antonio Luna.
The mansion was constructed in the late 19th century by Maria Lacson and Saturnino Henson, a governor of San Fernando in the 1880s. Later, the home was bought by another couple, Pablo Panlilio y Dayrit and Dolores Argüelles.
6. Syquia Mansion
A must-see while you’re in Vigan is the Syquia Mansion, also known as the Malacaang of the North. Alicia Syquia, the firstborn child of Chinese Tomas Syquia of Vigan and Spanish Conchita Jimenez of Binondo, lived in the house, which is painted cream with yellow accents. Elpidio Quirino, a former president, also lived there.
It is an illustration of a bahay na bato, a type of home popular during the Spanish colonial era that combines Filipino and Spanish architectural styles. Due to the regular location of cabinet discussions, it witnessed important events throughout Quirino’s presidency.
It has become a museum where visitors can be amazed by treasures from the family’s opulent history on display in large paintings, beautiful furnishings, and polished floors.
7. Lopez Heritage House
The majestic Lopez Heritage House, popularly known as Nelly’s Gardens, is situated within an enormous tract of greenery in a wealthy area in Jaro, Iloilo City.
Vicente Lopez y Villanueva and Elena Hofilena y Javelona are the owners of this Beaux Art palace, which was constructed with opulent columns and pilasters to symbolize the family’s enormous riches.
You’ll be reminded of the grand events that used to take place here by the vintage decorations inside, like the piano and chandeliers. Even the bedroom has a four poster mattress, and there is a mannequin on display wearing a Filipiniana attire.
You may reserve the mansion for events like ceremonies, exclusive dinners, and photo sessions in addition to touring it.
8. Adriano House
The Adriano Ancestral House, also known as the Gobierno Militar de la Plaza, is a significant historical structure in Malolos. From 1898 to 1899, it was the headquarters of General Isidoro Torres during the period of the Revolutionary Government and the First Philippine Republic.
Former residence of Doa Gregoria Adriano, Adriano House is noted by its row of windows. Because it originally functioned as a meeting site for the military administration started by Gen. Isidoro Torres, it played an important role in the Philippine revolution.
As a result of the well-preserved structure housing Meralco’s offices, it is now regarded as an excellent instance of innovative reuse in heritage conservation.
9. Balay na Tisa
Don Roman Sarmiento and Dona Canarias constructed the Balay na Tisa, which means literally “House of Tiles,” in 1859. It is the epitome of the “bahay na bato” heritage, which can be seen all around the archipelago, and it has elaborate architectural features and historical furnishings.
Balay na Tisa was certified as a National Heritage House in a formal ceremony on September 4, 2009.
One of the rare remaining representations of how lifestyle and real estate were in pre-war Philippines is the great heritage home Mira Nila, which has an Italianate façade. Conrado Benitez, a trailblazing teacher and councilman, and his spouse Francisca Tirona Benitez, the founders of the Philippine Women’s University, constructed it in 1929. The name Mira-Nila, which translates as “to look at Manila,” refers to the property’s former setting as a rural hilltop overlooking Manila in Quezon City. The house today holds a collection of items amassed by the Benitez marriage and later by their daughter Helena Z. Benitez, including furniture, books, paintings, pottery, and other artifacts. On April 7, 2011, Mira-Nila was formally recognized as a national historic building.
Ancestral houses have participated in the history of the nation; they have encountered and gone through more than we have. Since these homes are full of history and culture that perhaps no one alive can fully share, we ought to maintain care of them.
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